It makes sense for EA to try for exclusivity. The NFL apparently is okay with this, since they accepted the money. They didn't have to. If they were concerned about videogames, they wouldn't have granted exclusive rights.
If you're going to blame someone, blame the NFL. It simply makes good business sense for EA to buy the rights. That may suck, but they obviously have a decent product otherwise they wouldn't have the dough to do it.
The last ESPN game I played was nhl2k2 or something. I thought it was alot better than the ea version. I've been playing Madden, and I like it. The franchise options are unbelievable, much better than espn. You're right, though, it's tough to run.